Dr Schmitz joined James Cook University in July 2021. He is an Associate Professor in Bioinformatics at the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow (2021-2025).

Ulf completed his PhD at the University of Rostock (Germany). In 2015, he joined the Centenary Institute (University of Sydney) as a post-doctoral Research Officer in the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program. In 2016, he was also appointed as Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine & Health (University of Sydney). Before joining JCU, Ulf was Head of the Computational Biomedicine Lab at the Centenary Institute.

Ulf is a computational biologist with training in bioinformatics and systems biology and more than 12 years of experience in analysing post-transcriptional gene regulation. His research interests focus on computational RNA biology and Systems Medicine. Ulf and his team develop integrative workflows combining various computational disciplines with experimentation to address questions around non-coding RNAs, post-transcriptional gene regulation, and cancer biology. He has published 48 research articles, 9 book chapters, and 3 books on this topic. 

Research Projects

Alternative splicing and the epigenome in Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

In this project, we are investigating gene regulatory processes in leukaemia. The third biggest cause of cancer death in all Australians is blood cancers (leukaemia), which are diagnosed 35 times each day. Using a multi-omics approach, we examine alternative splicing and epigenetic changes blood samples from chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients before and after treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Find out more: Schmitz et al, Cancers 2020

Cooperating microRNAs for cancer therapy

In this project, we use a systems medicine approach to find new avenues for overcoming chemotherapy resistance in aggressive tumour cells. Our results suggest that pairs of cooperating microRNAs could be used as potential RNA therapeutics to reduce E2F1-related chemoresistance. Find out more: Lai X, Gupta SK, Schmitz U et al, Theranostics 2018


Cross-talk between post-transcriptional gene regulation mechanisms

Combining computational predictions and in vitro assays we elucidate the cross-talk between post-transcriptional gene regulation mechanisms. More specifically, we focus in interactions between microRNA molecules and intron-retaining mRNA transcripts and try to identify networks of interconnected gene regulation. Using a systems biology approach we will model competitive post-transcriptional gene regulation through iterative cycles of time course experiments and model simulations.


Available HDR Student Projects

Alternative splicing-based subtyping of 5k leukaemia and lymphoma samples

Single-cell multi-omics data analysis to elucidate gene isoform regulation in Acute Myeloid Leukemia


  • BC3203: Bioinformatics (Level 3; TSV)
  • BC5203: Advanced Bioinformatics (Level 5; TSV)
  • Mentoring Early Career Researchers
  • RNA Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Systems Biology
  • 2021 to present - A/Prof, James Cook University (Townsville/Australia)
  • 2018 to present - Associate Faculty, Centenary Institute (Sydney/Australia)
  • 2015 to present - Conjoint Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney (Australia)
  • 2018 to 2021 - Senior Research Officer, Centenary Institute (Sydney/Australia)
  • 2018 to 2021 - Lab Head, Centenary Institute (Sydney/Australia)
  • 2015 to 2017 - Research Officer, Centenary Institute (Sydney/Australia)
  • 2003 to 2015 - Systems Engineer, University of Rostock (Germany)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2020 - Centenary Recognition Award for Contribution to Centenary Life
  • 2017 - NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship for Early Career Researchers
  • 2021 to 2025 - NHMRC Investigator (EL1)
  • 2018 to 2020 - Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellowship

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 19+ research outputs authored by Dr Ulf Schmitz from 2016 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

National Health & Medical Research Council - Investigator Grants

Investigating post-transcriptional gene regulation in cancer

Indicative Funding
$577,910 over 4 years
In this project we willl employ integrative systems medicine approaches to generate a detailed mechanistic overview of multi-level cancer gene regulation and provide novel avenues for the treatment of aggressive tumours. We will determine patterns of gene regulation in leukaemia and test whether these patterns are predictive for disease outcome. We will devise strategies for the therapeutic interference with gene regulation to effectively sensitise aggressive tumours to chemotherapy and thereby diminish tumour cell populations and prevent relapse.
Ulf Schmitz (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Bioinformatics; Breast Cancer; Gene Regulation; Computational Biology; Leukaemia; RNA biology

Cancer Council NSW - Project Grants

Deciphering cancer gene regulation

Indicative Funding
$404,943 over 4 years
In this project, we investigate regulatory processes in cancer, whereby the control of protein generation from DNA genetic code is disrupted. This process is referred to as intron retention (IR), a phenomenon, which allows ?junk? DNA to enter the cell. IR plays a critical role in cancer development, yet the mechanism of its involvement remains unresolved. We hypothesise that IR can significantly interfere with other forms of gene regulation via `cross-talk?. This introduces a distortion of gene regulation, which is amenable to therapeutic manipulation. Our enhanced understanding of gene-regulatory cross-talk will facilitate improved IR-directed therapies.
Ulf Schmitz and Charles Bailey (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine & Cell Biology)
Bioinformatics; Breast Cancer; Gene Regulation; Computational Biology; Leukaemia; RNA biology

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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